Tammy Robinson, a fifth grade teacher at Bryant Elementary School walked in the footsteps of America’s patriots and British colonists during the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute held recently in the restored capital city of 18th-century Virginia.

“The eight days spent completing the Teacher Institute were an amazing educational boot camp,” Robin Smith of Grand Elementary School in Chickasha said. “We were engaged 10 to 12 hours a day, and the amount of knowledge we gained was overwhelming. I thought I knew my history, but through this experience, I understand so much more.”

Smith said she had goose bumps when she heard a historical interpreter describe hardships as a slave on a Virginia plantation. She also was inspired visiting the Revolutionary War battlefield at Yorktown where the British army surrendered and America was born.

“I have always considered myself patriotic, but looking out at the battlefield and envisioning what had taken place there gave me a deeper appreciation for what made this country.”

The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence selected the teachers to receive all-expense paid trips to the summer institute in Williamsburg, Va., as well as $300 stipends for classroom materials.

In addition, participants received a one-year subscription to the Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trip series, which combines Internet activities and live television broadcasts to help bring the Colonial Williamsburg experience to the classroom.

While at Colonial Williamsburg, a living history museum, Oklahoma teachers met character interpreters of 18th-century people and were immersed in early American history through hands-on activities and reenactments of historic events.

The week’s lessons were built around the theme “Becoming Americans.” Participants also visited Jamestown, which is the site of the first permanent English colony in America, and spent a day at Yorktown visiting the battlefields where the Continental Army forced the British to surrender.

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